Dane Chandos is one of Lakeside’s most celebrated writers, but no one has ever seen his photo and no tombstone marks his grave because Chandos is a pen name that Lakeside writer Peter Lilley shared with two successive collaborators.
Lilley, born in the U.K. in 1913, lived for much of his life in San Antonio Tlayacapan. His first collaborator was Nigel Millett, who was born in London in 1904 and emigrated to Mexico with his father in 1937.
The pair wrote two books before Millet died in 1946. (He and his father are both buried in Ajijic’s Panteón.) Both stories share a San Antonio Tlayacapan setting and many of the same characters.
Village in the Sun (1945) tells the story of building Lilley’s house in Mexico and is still treasured as an authentic account of Lakeside life in the 1940s. Find it here on Amazon.
In House in the Sun (1949) the protagonist has added guest rooms to the house and become an innkeeper of sorts. Find it here on Amazon.
The year after Millet’s death, Lilley was visited in Mexico by Anthony Stansfeld, a U.K. expat who shortly after emigrated to the U.S. Stansfeld later became Lilley’s second collaborator, traveling frequently from his American home to Mexico.
The pair wrote two travelogues under the name Dane Chandos.
They also created a huarache-wearing Mexican detective who appears in two works written under the pen name Bruce Buckingham. Three Bad Nights (1956) here on Amazon, and Boiled Alive (1957), here on Amazon.
Peter Lilley lived in San Antonio Tlayacapan into the 1970s, but returned to the U.K. in his final days and died there in 1980.
But there’s a delightful postscript…
The new owners of Lilley’s house discovered an unpublished manuscript containing a collection of recipes and anecdotes that they released in 1997 as the bilingual work Candelaria’s Cookbook under the name Dane Chandos.
Read more about the Lake Chapala area’s rich literary legacy here.
More than 10,000 Americans and Canadians have chosen to live permanently along the shores of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, begging for everyone else the questions of what motivates them to leave lifelong homes, and what they have sought – and found – in their new lives south of the border.
Fortunately, those who may be considering such a move – or are who newly arrived – can draw upon the experiences and observations of the area’s resident writers for authentic insight.
Presented here are four books chock full of personal accounts written from different perspectives and in different voices. Some are nuts-and-bolts tutorials on life in Mexico, and others delve into the psyche of foreigners who have chosen to live abroad. In combination they serve up a full mosaic of expat life in contemporary Mexico.
These are the true stories of real people who have already made the move.
Baby Boomers: Reinvent Your Retirement in Mexico. This book by Karen Blue is a collection of accounts by expats who have found in Lake Chapala way to fill their lives with passion and purpose, and to cultivate their full potential.
It doesn’t focus on the wheres, the whats and the hows as much as it invites the reader to immerse him/herself in the expat mindset. Find it here on Amazon.
Head for Mexico: The Renegade Guide. This book was edited by Teresa Kendrick, who is also the author of a guidebook to the Lake Chapala area, and Karen Blue and Judy King are among its contributors. This book offers readers comprehensive information needed to make an informed decision about moving to Mexico. Find it here on Amazon.
Living at Lake Chapala. This guide to everyday living at Lake Chapala draws upon Judy King’s years of explorations, inquiries, and writings about local village life.
She leads readers through the what, where, how and why of everyday life in this part of Mexico. She offers up tips and advice about how to accept and embrace the many cultural distinctions that make Mexico such a fascinating place.
This is not only a book to read before arrival, but one to keep for reference after arrival.
Midlife Mavericks: Women Reinventing Their Lives in Mexico. This book, also by Karen Blue, does not suggest that moving to Mexico is for every woman, but it does present it as a viable consideration for those experiencing or desiring significant change in their lives.
For some, change means a readiness to shed the trappings of corporate life and consumerism for a simpler existence.
Others are victims of economic happenstance that has left them no other choice. And some are simply unwilling to further postpone dreams of a breakout adventure which has sustained them through otherwise uneventful lives.
Barbara Bickmore lived and wrote in Ajijic from 1990 to 1997. She recalled writing her first story at the age of seven, but fifty-four years would pass before her dream deferred would reveal itself in a frenetic burst of writing creativity.
Born and raised on Long Island, Bickmore exhibited an interest in literature and theater from childhood and grew up to become a teacher. She married, and her career was later interrupted for several years following the births of her three children.
Divorced after 16 years of marriage, Bickmore took a sabbatical from teaching in order to complete her Masters degree, then moved with her children to Oregon in 1973. When her attempts at farming and shopkeeping failed, she returned to teaching until her employer declined to renew her contract in 1985.
The now unemployed Bickmore was invited to China by a daughter who was at the time working as an English language instructor in Xian. During the visit mother and daughter befriended a South African couple. The experience led Bickmore to later choose both China and South Africa as settings for some of her books.
Upon her return to the States, Bickmore completed her first novel, East of the Sun, which was published in 1988 when she was aged 61.
She came to Ajijic in 1990 following publication of her second novel, The Moon Below, and stayed for 7 years.
During her time in Ajijic she completed five books, including:
The Back of Beyond (1994)
Deep in the Heart (1996)
Beyond the Promise (1997)
While none of her books were set in Mexico, Bickmore was clearly enamored of the Lake Chapala area, writing of it:
I lived for 7 magical years in a little Mexican village, Ajijic, high in the mountains south of Guadalajara on the edge of Lake Chapala. They were the happiest years of my life.
She returned to Oregon in 1998, where she continued to write and where she remained until her death at age 87.
The themes of Bickmore’s books are expressions of her personal morality, and she considered her work a form of political activism:
I am against war. I am for a woman’s right to reproductive choice. I believe women should have the same choices, and chances, men do. I am against racism. I believe education can make for better informed choices and can expand one’s view of the world and make for a limitless horizon. I believe friendship is one of the most important things in life and that love is the single most important ingredient. I believe in kindness and that we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.
One of the amazing and wonderful, almost unbelievable, things about writing is that people read what I think and feel and perhaps I even influence a few. I’d like to be like my heroines, each of whom makes a difference in their worlds. They look out beyond themselves to help others and hopefully make the world a better place.
Bickmore’s books were at least as popular abroad as in the U.S., and her work has been translated into 16 languages.
Read more about Barbara Bickmore and browse her books here on Amazon.
Read more about the Lake Chapala area’s rich literary legacy here.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
Who among us doesn’t want to perform to their full potential and energize their collaborative relationships? Joyce Wycoff has authored six books which provide roadmaps to maximizing personal and group productivity by changing the way we think. And she’s still writing!
Wycoff’s books deliver sophisticated solutions to common problems in straightforward language, and while they’re decidedly upbeat in tone they manage not to devolve into the vacuous cheerleading which characterizes so many books in this genre. While a few of her books are more appropriate for business organizations, most are as universally applicable to the lives of individuals and the cultural health of non-commercial ventures both large and small:
Is it possible that repurposing as little as 5 minutes each day can deliver greater happiness, better relationships and a more fulfilling life? Gratitude Miracles draws upon recent research which has proven that keeping a gratitude journal makes for better health and fitness, reduces stress, and improves coping skills.
This books distills the research into the quick and simple discipline of a daily journal. Find it here on Amazon.
Mindmapping is the application of “whole-brain thinking” to break through barriers that hamper our imaginations. Mindmapping: Your Personal Guide to Exploring Creativity and Problem-Solving plots a course to more creative problem solving, clearer decision making, improved memory and concentration, and better organization skills. Find it here on Amazon.
Transformation Thinking is a practical guidebook for anyone in a leadership position who wants to transform the way they make decisions, set goals, inspire productive teamwork, encourage communication, and stimulate generation of new ideas.
It teaches readers how to apply simple tools that expand thought horizons beyond preconceived norms to enhance creativity and effect change within any team, large or small. Find it here on Amazon.
To Do Doing Done: A Creative Approach to Managing Projects & Effectively Finishing What Matters Most book focuses on the skills required to manage any project without getting bogged down in conflicts or sidetracked by unexpected changes or developments.
The techniques are drawn from Franklin Quest’s Planning for Results seminars, which has boosted productivity of thousands of employees worldwide. Find it here on Amazon.
Sarana’s Gift: It Changes Everything! challenges readers to answer the question, “What would you sacrifice to have the gift that changes everything?” Published in 2016, this is a decided departure from the style of Wycoff’s earlier work; it wraps a spiritual journey in an allegorical fantasy filled with Mayan gods and goddesses.
Sarana’s odyssey reveals her unknown strengths and delivers many gifts, but she ultimately faces the test of whether to sacrifice what she needs most in order to restore the world’s equilibrium. It’s a timeless morality tale. Find it here on Amazon.
Wycoff is another of many RiberasAuthors whose creativity spills beyond the pages of a book; she’s also a photographer and digital artist.
Learn more about Joyce, and find links to her complete work and reviews on Amazon Books here.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
Many among Lake Chapala’s colony of English language writers connected with their muses only after retiring in Mexico.
Judy King, though, is one of a handful who have lived and worked in Mexico for much of their adult lives. It’s no surprise, then, that much of her written work shares knowledge and experience gleaned from nearly thirty years of life as an expat.
Her first book, Living at Lake Chapala (find it here on Amazon), is a popular handbook for those making the cultural transition.
Judy bring to her books a craftsmanship honed during her career as a journalist. Her articles have appeared in dozens of newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. She also published the widely read e-zine Mexico Insights for twelve years and served as Editor-in-Chief at the Lake Chapala Review.
Her work is featured in Head For Mexico: The Renegade Guide (here on Amazon).
She is also one of several local contributors to the award-winning anthology Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows (here on Amazon).
Judy is currently working on a new book scheduled for release early in 2019.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
American poet Harold Witter Bynner (1881-1968), divided his time between homes in Chapala and Taos, New Mexico for nearly 30 years, and had the distinction of introducing both D.H. Lawrence and Tennessee Williams to the Lake Chapala area. Williams had visited Mexico before Bynner hosted him in 1947, but Lawrence’s trip in 1923 was his first of three visits, and the Englishman might never have come to Mexico had not he and Bynner met quite by happenstance in Taos.
Lawrence and his wife Frieda had left England in 1919 for a self-imposed exile that the Englishman called his “savage pilgrimage”. Their intended destination was Taos, New Mexico, but their route was quite circuitous, beginning with almost two years of travel through Italy. Malta, Germany, and Austria. They left Europe early in 1922 and arrived in Taos late that year by way of Ceylon and Australia.
Bynner, having met a Chinese professor with whom he had begun collaborating on the translation of T’ang Dynasty poems, had traveled to China during 1920-21 to study its literature and culture. Upon his return to the U.S. he embarked on an extensive lecture tour which brought him to Santa Fe, New Mexico in February 1922. Exhausted and ill, he canceled the rest of his tour and remained there.
Taos had first come to the attention of the Eastern artistic establishment in 1898 when Harpers Weekly published an article illustrated with work by artist Ernest Blumenschein, who had arrived in Taos while touring the U.S. and decided to stay. Within a few years other American and European-born artists joined them. Lawrence had often discussed the idea of setting up a utopian community with several of his friends, and in a 1915 note wrote:
“I want to gather together about twenty souls and sail away from this world of war and squalor and found a little colony where there shall be no money but a sort of communism as far as necessaries of life go, and some real decency… a place where one can live simply, apart from this civilization with a few other people who are also at peace and happy and live, and understand and be free…”
Many artists were drawn to Taos by Mabel Dodge Luhan, a wealthy heiress from Buffalo, New York. She had hosted art salons in Florence, Italy, and Manhattan before settling in Taos in 1917, where she married her third husband and carried on her salon tradition. Luhan hosted artists, writers, and other luminaries including Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Alfred Stieglitz in Taos. Even D. H. Lawrence painted while in Taos, and his work is on display at La Fonda Hotel on the Taos Plaza, signed with the pseudonym “Lorenzo”.
Artist Dorothy Brett arrived in Taos with D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda in 1924, sowing the seeds of a conflict that fully bloomed upon Lawrence’s death in 1930. Luhan, Brett, and Lawrence’s wife Frieda each considered themselves in some way Lawrence’s true muse, and argued over the disposition of Lawrence’s ashes. To prevent Mabel from stealing and scattering them, Frieda had them mixed with concrete and formed into a block which remains to this day on the D. H. Lawrence Ranch above Taos.
Luhan’s salons continued, and in the years following Lawrence’s death her guests included Carl Sandburg, Willa Cather, Igor Stravinsky, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Aldous Huxley, and Thornton Wilder.
Following WWI, a new generation of writers and artists arrived in Taos to turn the page on the town’s artistic heritage, but Lawrence’s works The Plumed Serpent and Mornings In Mexico arguably owe their existence to his Taos connection and friendship with Witter Bynner.
Today, as the Lake Chapala area is poised to celebrate the centennial of Lawrence’s first visit, dozens of writers who call it home carry on the literary tradition.
Browse the Authors Gallery and find links to their bios and reviews of their work here.
Read more here about Lake Chapala’s long-standing literary tradition.
John Thomas Dodds is a student of life whose unending fascination with his subject is distilled in in fifteen Amazon-published works. Most are poetic, but Dodds has lately ventured into fiction and has even written books for children.
The themes of Dodds’ poetry are universal and expressed with a simplicity that invites readers of every genre to follow him on shared journeys. He captures the simple joy of being, and the peace of forgiveness and forgetfulness. His works are richly introspective, and his self-reflection brooks no boundaries.
Relationships between couples play prominently across John’s work. From the most romantic of poetry to meditations on growing old together (Aging Beautifully In Light Of You), he reaffirms the power of lifelong love.
John’s first novel, A Long Way From Nowhere, is set in Dallas, Texas during the social turbulence of the 1960’s. It draws upon his own life as a young man, and affords a provocative view of America’s identity crisis seen through eyes of a young Canadian as he sheds the last of his youthful innocence.
Dodds’s background as a teacher steps into the foreground in his two works crafted for children: A Sneaky Twitch of an Itch (illustrated), and A Journey Home.
Learn more about John, and find links to his work and reviews on Amazon Books here.
Discover dozens of Lakeside authors and scores of their Amazon books here.
Everything about Georg Rauch’s life seems improbable. It was improbable that a young, partly Jewish Austrian boy should have escaped the Holocaust, much less been mustered into the Wehrmacht. Improbable that he should have survived combat on the Eastern front, internment in a Russian POW camp, or the illness which he contracted while in captivity.
The only thing not improbable about Georg Rauch was that his towering talent would one day overshadow his tortuous past to make him a world-reknowned artist. Or that his autobiography – which has sold over 70,000 copies – would one day attract almost as much interest as his art.
Georg Rauch passed away in 2006, but his artistic legacy shines even more brightly than his storied life, and thanks to the efforts of his wife Phyllis a new generation is discovering both his art and his story.
Learn more about Georg, and find links to his work and reviews on Amazon Books here.
Don’t miss the exhibition of Georg’s art at Jocotopec’s Casa de Cultura (map here) from Sept. 8-28, 2018.
Learn more about dozens of Lakeside authors and scores of their Amazon books Amazon here.
Actually, Margaret is not just a poetic talent, but also an accomplished short story writer.
Her poetry appears in the company of similarly gifted authors between the covers of several anthologies, including works by Lakeside’s Not Yet Dead Poets. Both her poetry and short stories appear in a collection by a group of Lakeside female authors, and she’s also a frequent and popular performer at local poetry readings.
Margaret is also the literary executor for the late Jim Tipton’s poetic works.
Read more about Margaret, and find links to her work and reviews on Amazon here.
Writers have probably been sharing company and debating ideas since Gutenberg invented moveable type, more recently in the salons and bookstores of 1920’s Paris, and post-WWII in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s North Beach. These days, etailers like Amazon Books afford readers access to the work of authors so scattered around the globe that they’re unlikely ever to meet each other except online.
There remains, though, a community of writers who still embrace the value of living and working among each other. They’re to be found in a string of villages along the shores of Mexico’s Lake Chapala, drawn by the same pull which has attracted English language writers and poets to the area for nearly a century. The continuing stream of newly arriving writers leaves no doubt that its appeal is stronger now than ever before.
Today, readers can choose from nearly 100 Amazon titles by more than 30 authors who have learned to their delight that the Riberas de Chapala – the shores of Lake Chapala – can coax even the most reluctant muse into fruitful inspiration.
These book authors, though, are just the tip of the iceberg. The work of scores more – including, poets, short storytellers, essayists, memoirists, and humorists – appear often in anthologies and in the area’s English language periodicals. In fact, it’s hard to pass a day here without sighting one or more – writers going about their daily affairs on along cobblestone streets.
They work from homes scattered around a picturesque, mile-high lake nestled among the mountains of western Mexico. The area boasts a unique micro-climate known for sun-bathed winters and a welcome absence of steamy, subtropical summers.
And while the seclusion which many writers crave is not hard to come by, these wordsmiths frequently come together for readings, workshops, and the area’s annual writer’s conference. Experienced writers often coach aspiring writers, and it’s not uncommon to see a budding author grow from apprentice to journeyman to maestro under the influence of expert coaching.
The world of publishing has been turned on its head in the past couple of decades, but it seems a fair bet that writers – regardless of changes imposed by technology – will continue congregating here over the next 100 years as they have in the first.
Read more about this area’s rich literary tradition on these related posts: